My roots

Van’wanati History (MALULEKE) HISTORY
THE ORIGINS of Van’wanati can be traced back to the period when Black people (The Bantu) experienced challenges in the form of attacks by the Arabs and constant shortage of enough fresh water as a result of the drying of the Sudan fresh water lake. The Bantu speaking people scattered throughout the land of Africa; and the Beja Tonga’s main groups, of which …Van’wanati originates from, moved southwards. They settled in areas around Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and Northern Zambia. They are reputed to be the first Bantu to have interacted with the San people and also learned the effective and efficient use of the bow and arrow weapons. These groups were named Vacopi by other migrating Bantu speaking groups, due to the way they mastered the art of fight with the bow and arrow weaponry.
As the time passed, they moved through their secondary migration southwards and settled in the areas known today as Mozambique. One of the larger groups amongst the Vacopi assumed a different name of the Nwanati after settling along a river called Nwanati. Their diet consisted much of fish, hunting and wild fruits which were abundant in the area. One of the Nwanati sub-groups which opted to settle permanently in the area inherited the name of Makwakwa due to the liking of the nutritious fruit called ‘kwakwa’ in Tsonga language.
The Maluleke originates from a man called Malenga, who was one of the sons of the King of the Vacopi people Gunyule; who migrated from northern parts of Southern Africa to settle in what is called Mozambique today in the early 1200 and 1300. Due to reasons related to expansion, search of arable land, food sources and other reasons; Malenga left his own people and moved out of his father’s control with his followers and settled at an area called Pfukwe today (the name is derived from the drowning of the Gaza warriors running away from the Portuguese at the big fresh water lake found in this area in Gaza Province). Malenga is credited to be the founder of the Maluleke nation. Most of his children and descendants have managed to sustain his legacy till present day life; as they are still Chiefs and leaders of various communities within and outside the influence of his dynasty.
Malenga was succeeded by his son Maxakadzi. The Maluleke became powerful amongst the people in the region and Vatsonga people in particular during the rein of Maxakadzi; and known in as far as India and East Asia through their trading and hunting skills in Ivory, natural resources including copper, gold, animal products, etc. The majority of the Maluleke had lived for a long time at the confluence of the present borders of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, from around 1640s when their then leader, King Maxakadzi, settled at the Nyandweni (present-day northern part of the Kruger National Park). Maxakadzi build his dynasty by absorbing other Vatsonga clans and expanding his influence and land by waging wars with neighbouring clans such as Vangona, Vanyai, etc.
The Maluleke in South Africa are currently led by ten (10) Traditional Leaders of which seven (7) have earned the recognition of Senior Traditional Leaders by Government. The Traditional Leaders are found in Limpopo Province; but other Maluleke people are all over the Republic of South Africa in various forms of citizenships. In Mozambique they are in the Gaza Province in Mapai and are being led by five (5) Chiefs under the Leadership of Chief Mapai. In Zimbabwe there are three (3) Chiefs under the leadership of Shikole in the areas around Chiredzi.
The most conquest by Malenga and his people took place in areas north of and along the banks of the Limpopo river and put most of the surrounding fertile, arable and game rich areas under his control. This migration was necessitated by desire to be more independent and also seek more arable land and food sources for the growing population of his people.
Malenga was buried in the area of Pfukwe, together with his eldest son Muswana, who was killed in battle in earlier years of conquests. Malenga was succeeded by his third son Maxakadzi, who was a great hunter and fighter, and is the one who is credited to have placed the Van’wanati of the Maluleke branch as a powerful nation and be known throughout the world in areas such as India, Middle East and East Asia. He was known throughout these trade blocks, due to his various trading skills in hunting Ivory, animal products and the exploitation of natural resources such as copper and other minerals of the time.
Maxakadzi expanded the Maluleke dynasty through absorption of other Vatsonga clans and occupied most of the fertile land which was inhabited by the Vavenda people of Vangona and Vanyai origin.
Maxakadzi and his children (sons), who later became leaders of various Battalions conquered the Vavenda and took their battles to the interior of areas around Zoutpansberg; and expanded their influence up to the river called Ma(u)nunu (near the Tropic of Capricorn). He established his head kraals in two distinct areas which are still known today in the Kruger National Park: at an area between Pafuri and Babalala rest camp, which the Maluleke called Nyandweni and the area near the present Shingwedzi camp, called Mashakadzi. The place of Nyandweni is sacred to the Maluleke as it is the place where Maxakadzi discovered the beautiful trees, which he named ‘MNyandu’ and the name remain intact in Xitsonga language. These trees blossom during summer and produce beautiful flowers known as ‘ripambeta’ in Xitsonga; and they produce a welcoming pleasant scent which perfumes the surrounding air with it and makes the entire environment more friendlier and attractive. The elephants inhabit the area for purposes of breeding.
Vatsonga practice and maintain simple, manageable and less complex chiefdoms and once Chiefdoms grow bigger; there is mutual way of distributing control within the royal Princes to ensure less tensions and complex conflicts. When Maxakadzi reached old age and realised that he could pass-on without addressing the issues of who should succeed him and continue with his legacy and those of his fore bearers. He assembled all his elders, advisors and instructed his sons together with those of his brothers to honour his wish on how they should conduct themselves after his death.
He ordered that he should be buried in the southern part of his Kingdom where he grew up as a boy and where most of his close family was buried. His grave is still preserved where Maxakadzi ordered to be buried and is under the guardianship of the Maluleke of Guyu branch in Mozambique. He distributed control and authority over his land to his sons and those from his brothers, Muswana and Ncelwa. Although most of his sons were allocated land to control and manage, when Maxakadzi died, they managed to cooperate and created two sections, the northern part which was under the leadership of Shimambani (Dlhamani) and the head kraal based on the confluence of the Levhubu river and the southern section led by Guyu, which the head kraal was based in the areas around the current Mapai in Mozambique.
Most of the Maluleke elders, the indunas and their subjects followed Shimambani; as they regarded him as the heir to the throne of the Maluleke dynasty. This is because Shimambani was born by the wife of the eldest son of Malenga – Muswana; she was always referred to by the Van’wanati as N’wa-Bungu lonkulu and Maxakadzi married N’wa-Bungu lontsongo and gave birth to his eldest son-Guyu, who was older than Shimambani.
Maxakadzi’s children continued to expand the Kingdom and expanded the trade routes while protecting the interests of the people. In the correct context of traditional beliefs of Van’wanati who practice the customs and traditions of Vatsonga, it will be indicated that Maxakadzi was succeeded by Shimambani (Ximambani) commonly known as Dlhamani. According to Tsonga customs and traditions, the eldest son of Hosi becomes a Hosi after his father’s death; and Shimambani as the eldest son of Muswana; but being a biological son of Maxakadzi and N’wa Bungu lonkulu, became the rightful leader of the Maluleke. The majority of the Maluleke and their subjects, who are in South Africa today, are descendants of the many that were under his leadership.
After the passing–on of Shimambani, the Maluleke continued to spread and established themselves through several semi-independent chiefdoms, and maintained mutual relationships, trading and waging battles as one core unit. A practical and well documented example is how the Maluleke annihilated the Van Rensburg party in 1836, becoming the first Africans in the southern part of the continent to have spilled the blood of so many Colonialists in a short period of time. This event was later documented by another Voortrekker leader, Louis Trichardt, who went to the area to look for the whereabouts of the party members.
The land and movements of these peace loving people were taken and disrupted by the outcomes of the 1884/5 Berlin Conference, under the Chairmanship of Otto Von Bismarck, which divided their land and placed it into three different countries: South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Currently most of the Maluleke land is part of the Limpopo Transfrontier Park and some part of it was successfully claimed by the Maluleke community, who are under the leadership of the descendant of Makahlule who was one of Maxakadzi’s sons.
The Maluleke of South Africa are currently led by the following Traditional Authorities which claim direct descendency to Malenga wa Gunyule:
Muswana wa Malenga:
The Mhinga Traditional Authority and Xigalo Traditional Authority. The Tsuvuka, Chavani, and Huhlwani Chieftainships disintegrated in the late and early eighteen century and have not been resuscitated since.
Ncelwa wa Malenga:
Xikundu Traditional Authority and Mulamula Traditional Authority.
Maxakadzi wa Malenga:
Hlaneki Traditional Authority, Nkuri Traditional Authority and Majeje Traditional Authority.
Other Traditional Leaders from the Maxakadzi wing are Muyexe, Makuleke and Xigalo-Muhunguti.
The Maluleke in Mozambique
The Maluleke in Mozambique are currently under the leadership of Hosi Mapai of the Guyu WA Maxakadzi branch. The Maluleke Chiefs under Mapai are: N’wazulu, Hasani, Matsilele, Salani, na Mahungu. The Xikhumba branch is led by a Muhlengwe (Chauke) because there is no elder from the Maluleke who can lead the people.
The Maluleke in Zimbabwe
The Maluleke in Zimbabwe are represented by their chieftainship of Xikole wa Ximambani wing, which is currently resided in the areas around Chiredzi. Top of Form.
Source: Joshua Maluleke’s Facebook post


  1. hi mina munwanati wa xiviri se na ku tiva lomu xivongo lexi xi humaka kona nipfuleke mahlo i mphela rimitsu i rinwe i malenga

  2. Iam the descendant of Makahlule Wa Mashakadzi wa Malenga
    Let me ask you can you name all Mashakadzi’s children and their descendant?

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